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First-Time Buyer: Must-Have Options?

Discussion in 'Model S: Ordering, Production, Delivery' started by Jack Tripper, Apr 8, 2017.


Which Options are Must-Have?

  1. Premium Package ($3,500)

    47 vote(s)
  2. Smart Air Suspension ($2,500)

    26 vote(s)
  3. Hi-Fi Sound System ($2,500)

    22 vote(s)
  4. High Amperage Charger ($1,500)

    8 vote(s)
  5. Rear-facing Seats ($4,000)

    3 vote(s)
  6. Glass Roof ($1,500)

    27 vote(s)
  7. Sunroof ($2,000)

    34 vote(s)
  8. Leather Interior ($3,300)

    43 vote(s)
  9. Enhanced Autopilot ($5,000)

    81 vote(s)
  10. Full Self-Driving ($3,000)

    11 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Jack Tripper

    Jack Tripper Member

    Mar 15, 2015
    Hi, I'm looking at a new S90D, but it's a major purchase for me so I'm looking to save where I can. But, I'm willing to spend if it's a good investment in terms of enjoyment and longevity of the car.

    So far I'm thinking AP and full self-driving, which are big appeals of the car. Are any of the other options considered must-have? On that note, are there are any options that are a clear waste of money? For example, I'm buying in CA so the sub-zero package isn't useful at all.
  2. johnnyS

    johnnyS Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    I recommend waiting on the full self driving. It could take a year for enhanced autopilot to become fully functional. Full self driving may never happen with the current sensors or at least not to the full extent. I like the air suspension since it gives a very smooth ride which complements the very smooth drive train. The other items just make the interior nicer. The 90D is a great choice by the way.
  3. bmah

    bmah Moderator, Model S / Model X Forums

    Mar 17, 2015
    Lafayette, CA, USA
    Jack, I don't think there's anything that's universally considered to be a "must have". It's going to vary according to what each person needs / wants. The best you can do is probably get a range of opinions from owners and see what resonates with you. Fortunately this question has been asked a lot on TMC so there's a pretty large sample size.

    If it were me, I'd do the premium package (mostly for the powered liftgate), SAS (helps to get in/out of my driveway). I'd pass on the high-fidelity sound system (it's car not a concert hall), the high-amperage charger (NEMA 14-50 works great for me), and rear-facing seats (my son is too old/tall for them). I'd probably do EAP but not FSD because I'd need to see how the FSD feature plays out (at this point in time, the FSD feature does exactly nothing, and EAP is just starting to approach the capabilities of the original autopilot on AP1 hardware cars). I'd consider the all-glass roof (but note some owners have complained about wind noise)...seasonal allergies mean that if I got the pano roof it'd stay closed almost all of the time.

    If you ask someone else, they might pick the exact opposite set of options and be able to justify them just as well.

    I drive an S85D, and it was ordered at a time when the options (in my signature line) were somewhat rearranged compared to your choices today. At the time, the "must have" feature was the Tech Package, which included AP1 autopilot, the powered liftgate, and the nav system, among other things, but even then there were some people who didn't order it.

    There's one important decision you didn't ask about, which was the wheel size. The tires on 19" wheels tend to last a lot longer, but the 21" wheels look sportier.

    Do note that there are some options that can be added later (at an increased cost), such as EAP and FSD, and some that have to be ordered with the car and cannot be retrofitted, such as the premium package. So you can defer a decision on some of these options.

    Good luck!

    • Informative x 3
  4. FlyingCookie

    FlyingCookie Member

    Nov 9, 2016
    Nashville, TN
    I'd definitely wait on FSD. At this point, it's a feature that you may pay for that may never materialize while you own the car.

    I consider SAS a must-have, but that's due to its ride quality over rough bumps and how it helps make the car feel a little more planted during hard turns. That said, I'm also the type that is always 5-25MPH over the speed limit, and doing 45 down a rough road with SAS is better than any other car I've driven.

    If you're tall, you may consider the all-glass roof a must have. It adds about 1-2" of headroom up front, and if you have tall kids/friends/coworkers that ride in the car a lot, they'll enjoy the almost 3" of headroom it buys in the back. If you like a sunroof that opens, though, you'd have to get the Pano roof instead.

    I've heard the UHFS isn't great, and i tend to agree. If you REALLY care about audio, you'll be very underwhelmed by the UHFS. If you save that money and put it towards something aftermarket, that'll be much more pleasing. If you don't care about audio at all, just save the money.

    19" wheels are great and look great, and they last a lot longer and replacement tires are cheaper. 21" wheels handle better but don't last nearly as long and cost a lot more when you have to replace tires.

    I've very neutral on leather. It's nice, but it's not a thing I care about. My current car has leather, but that's only because I don't buy new cars. If it came with cloth seats and was identical in every other way, I wouldn't care at all. That said, the Tesla leather is pretty nice feeling. I did drive a P100D with the next-gen seats, and they're VERY supportive... They don't let you slide around much at all, which for someone like me is great. If you don't regularly take 90 degree turns at 60MPH, though, you may not care.

    Rear-facing seats are great if you have kids, but they will grow out of them. There's also no AC back there, so it can get toasty fast.

    The high-amp charger is one I myself am not sure about. It's one of those things that would be nice to have, and I can see being REALLY FREAKING NICE to have in a few emergency type situations. (Arrived home at 10% SOC and been home for an hour and someone calls you in the hospital/on the side of the road type of stuff) On the flip side, how often does that happen? For me, not very much. But if you have a long commute or something that may put you arriving home at a low SOC, it could be nice to have as it gets you almost 60MPH of charge speed. If you have a second car to cover stuff like that, though, I'd have no problem skipping the high-amp charger.
  5. tpham07

    tpham07 Active Member

    Mar 21, 2017
    Baton Rouge
    I could drive a base model Model S without anything except autopilot. Without autopilot i might as well drive a leaf.
  6. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

    Apr 5, 2012
    It may be better to list which features should you NOT order, if you are trying to minimize purchase price...

    The decision also needs to account for how long you plan to keep the car. Our VIN 3xxx S P85 has almost 85K miles on it. And when we ordered our new S 100D, we plan to keep it for at least as long, though we'll probably take 6 years to hit that mileage on the new car. If you plan to keep the car for at least 6-8 years, than you need to look at the features that you'll regret a year from now that you didn't purchase.

    We ordered the ultra white seats in our S 100D, and don't regret that decision. That material should hold up better than the cloth or leather seats - and if you plan to keep the car for a long time, that could be worth the investment.

    You do NOT need the charger upgrade. Even with an S 100D, we'll be able to charge overnight with a 40A charger. Plus, if you find that your really need 78A charging - and you're willing to invest in a 90-100A circuit and installing an HPWC, you can always add those later.

    Similarly, EAP and FSD are options that can be added later. EAP is getting better, so purchasing it now (rather than waiting 6-12 months for it to be fully working) does save you money. FSD is further out - and you have to decide if it's worth ordering it now vs. waiting until FSD is ready and paying a little more for it.

    Rear-facing seats are probably not a good choice for most people. They are only usable by small kids - and if you're really looking for that much seating, now that the Model X is available - that would be a better choice.

    We purchased the air suspension on both Model S. While riding lower on the highway may help a little in efficiency, another benefit is the ability to raise the car to get over curbs or if there's high water on the road. I'd recommend doing a test drive with and without the air suspension and see if you can feel any difference in the cars.

    The other features (premium upgrades, media upgrade, roof, ...) are personal preferences. We wanted XM - so that meant the sunroof and media upgrade. If you plan to keep the car for 6-8 years, are these features you'll regret not having a year from now...

    If you plan to keep the car for only 2 or 3 years or lease it - then choose fewer features, get the cost of the car down. But if you're going to keep the car longer, then you may regret not spending the extra $$$ up front to get those features...
  7. tchockie

    tchockie Member

    Aug 19, 2016
    are you leasing or buying?

    i basically have premium sound and AP1 as my options. couldn't be happier with my decision. I hate sunroofs (hot LA sun), and felt zero need for premium package. ordered with 19" slipstreams since i planned to put 20s on it at some point. mine is a lease. i love music (I DJ as a hobby), and have high end audio components at home and in previous cars, and i LOVE the high fidelity sound in my model s. huge difference for me.

    but yea, it's super personal in terms of preference. i could care less about an alcantara dash, interior mood lights, and power lift gate, but it's important for some. many could care less about the sound upgrade or can't tell the difference, and hey, that's a great way to save money.

    the only additional option i would add to mine is air suspension. the springs ride just fine tho. mostly i want it to look lower and more bad ass when i park and its on the low setting haha

    gluck with you build
  8. SMAlset

    SMAlset Active Member

    Mar 4, 2017
    SF Bay Area
    #8 SMAlset, Apr 9, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
    Since you mentioned longevity I am assuming you plan to keep the car for as long as you can like we are. Our car was a big purchase for us in this price range but like you we were willing to spend where it made sense to have the extras for our daily needs and comfort.

    Hubby had been following Tesla since he knew someone who went to work there in the early days so the AP and FSD were interesting to him. For our car we added EAP since some of those features are available now and others will be at some point soon (hopefully), but held off on the FSD. You will have the cameras for it already with the current cars and it can always be added later and no one really knows when that will happen. A lot can happen to you and your car before then so to us it made sense to wait on that feature.

    We also live in Calif and encounter hills and slopes (like our driveway) all the time. And business around here love to put in high traffic calming bumps everywhere, so for us the SAS made sense. Many have said it's a more cushiony ride. We also went for the PUP. The air package was the main attraction for us. We have a HEPA vacuum and other air filters at home and we do notice a difference in air quality so adding it to our car made sense for us. While sitting in Bay area traffic or even at a Starbuck's drive-through it's also nice not to be breathing in diesel/exhaust fumes from the trucks/cars in front of you. The included auto lift gate convenience in PUP is nice as well as the included leather and Alcantara features for added luxury (we had also selected leather seats so they complemented each other). Unless you're solely into the power of an electric vehicle, I feel at this price point you want the luxury touches. Another plus for the PUP was that in our area of Calif we do experience fog for a few months of the year and the fog lights would get put to use.

    Not being tall people (under 5'7") we found the front of the car fine for the roof height but when we sat in the back we thought the solid roof felt too low to our heads and was confining. Even though it will be just the two of us for the majority of the time we decided for the comfort of passengers we'd get one of the glass roof options. Sat in both and since we liked the idea of quick fresh air (and cooling from above) we went with the pano roof. Also during summer nights we think it's nice to open the roof up and feel the fresh air. Don't regret adding it and like the idea we can add the sunshade to it for when it's open during the day if we don't want the sun hitting our heads.

    If you like leather seats then this is the time to get them. While it isn't in your poll, we thought the $1000 upgrade for the subzero package was worth doing at that point mainly to give any passengers warmed seats. Not sure what part of Calif you're in but even in the Bay area where we're at it gets cold, a few years back 25F otherwise freezing or below freezing temps are normal, plus if you travel through the mountains at all it would be a nice creature comfort for rear seat passengers like family or friends (or business clients if that applies). Don't think heated rear seats are something you can add or easily add so the $1000 wasn't a big purchase in our minds. Keeping the car for a while if you're single you never know if you'll have a family of your own down the road but certainly will have family or friends in your car. And at the low interest rates right now for financing the $1000 it really doesn't make a big difference.

    The audio package wasn't a biggie for us. Systems can be added later. The Pano roof does give you the option of adding XM down the road where as the glass does not.

    Only had our car for less than a month but can say no regrets in our choices for it.
  9. TexasEV

    TexasEV Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    Austin, TX
    Really? Have you ever driven a Leaf on a trip of a few hundred miles?
    • Funny x 1
  10. TexasEV

    TexasEV Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    Austin, TX
    I would consider paying now for full self driving to be a complete waste of money. If and when it happens with capability that you would use, then consider activating it.
  11. oktane

    oktane Active Member

    Oct 25, 2016
    Buy a used car and save money. Or wait for Model 3. The AP2 cars are in no way better (and on many fronts worse) than AP1 cars. If I could do it again I'd buy a used Model S or just wait for M3. Don't believe the hype like I did, you WILL regret it!

    The Model 3 is supposed to launch in only a few months anyway, what's the hurry if money is tight?

    I can't in good conscience let someone who doesn't have money to burn buy a Tesla expecting the autopilot will work in any useful capacity.
  12. jimmyz80

    jimmyz80 Member

    Dec 26, 2014
    Apex, NC
    I will warn you not to overthink this question, or eventually everything will become a must-have. I just recently went through the same decision process for my S60D that I'm picking up this Thursday. My initial plan was to just get the color/wheels I wanted in order to be cosmetically happy with the car, and then get EAP as the only "option".

    Yeah....that didn't go as planned. :p
  13. Sasmania

    Sasmania Member

    Aug 22, 2014
    Scottsdale & Flagstaff AZ

    Ask anyone like me with a P85 with no autopilot if we might as well be driving a Leaf.
    • Funny x 2
    • Like x 1
  14. oktane

    oktane Active Member

    Oct 25, 2016
    Options simply improve margins on the cars. Base 60D gives 90% of the experience of my car I think - an EV drivetrain and not filling at the pump in relative comfort. If you go used, you get the benefit of not taking the first depreciation hit, and potentially a working autopilot.
  15. timvracer

    timvracer Member

    Mar 5, 2017
    Los Gatos, CA
    LOL... same here. Amazing how easy it is to click those little boxes. 21" wheels.. UHFS... Smart Air... Premium Package... EAP... Yada Yada Yada -- and now I will be working till I'm 90.

    • Like x 1
  16. Raddoc

    Raddoc Member

    Feb 18, 2017
    Jefferson City, MO
    Things that are not on the list that I believe are "must-have" are the 21 inch wheels, Carbon Fiber Trim, and a Carbon Fiber Spoiler. I love the design of the Tesla Model S, but to truly make it look special, you need the 21s and spoiler.

    I got the All Glass Roof (MSM color car) and, had I the choice to do it again, I would have chosen the panoramic roof. The all glass is nice for the rear seat passengers and if you are over 6'3'. It would be nice to be able to open the roof on beautiful evenings and air out the heat quickly. I really like the UHFS system; I believe it sounds much better than the basic stereo, and I don't live close to A/V shops to upgrade. I don't have excessive wind noise from the Glass Roof or excessive road noise from the 21s.

    Agree with others to skip the FSD until it is actually usable. EAP is nice. No need for high amperage charger. SAS is great but I expect problems in the future (maybe 4-5 years and 50-60k miles). I haven't had to use the SAS for driveways or bumps (just go slow and hit the driveway at angle. I love the ultra white seats; I spilled soda on it and it just wiped up (no perforations or crevices); watched a YouTube video on wine and ketchup spills that wiped right off. PUP give you Alcantara dash which is nice. I would also highly recommend the Carbon Fiber interior trim upgrade.
  17. Duke-U

    Duke-U Member

    Jul 21, 2016
    Tilburg, Netherlands
    Correct me if I am wrong, but FSD @ 3000 now versus a 1000 extra when ordered later on when the FSD is actually working, say in Two years time.

    That means ordering now will be a 16.5% interest rate on that investment.

    That doesn't apply when Tesla never delivers. Since I plan to keep the car for at least 4 years, I take my chances on it, so I did order the FSD.
  18. nagypite

    nagypite Member

    Sep 11, 2016
    100D has 14% more range for only 3000$
  19. Snerruc

    Snerruc Member

    Apr 16, 2016
    Palm Bay
    There are no must have options. The car is just fine without any of them. If you later decide you want Autopilot you can download it.
    • Like x 2
  20. DA808EV

    DA808EV Member

    Apr 28, 2014
    With my first MS, there were options I regret not getting like Pano roof and air suspension. With the purchase of my CPO MS, I made sure to find one with the options I didn't get plus more.

    The must haves for me are, in no particular order:
    - Pano roof
    - Air suspension
    - Premium package
    - High fidelity sound (need satellite radio)

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